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Oscar winner 'The Cove' to become the basis of a new TV series

March 8, 2010 |  3:34 pm

EXCLUSIVE: Fans of "The Cove," the environmentally themed film that won the best documentary Oscar last night, will be happy to know there's more where that came from.

A new television series about the controversial dolphin trade in Japan, tentatively titled "Dolphin Warriors," has been greenlit by Animal Planet.

Cove The series picks up where the movie leaves off and, like the film, stars animal activist Ric O'Barry. Two episodes of the series -- which is being executive produced by O'Barry's son, Lincoln -- have already been completed, although a premiere date has yet to be announced, Ric O'Barry said.

Animal Planet says the series may premiere in the fall, after "The Cove" debuts on the channel this summer.

"The Cove" tells the story of an annual rite in Taiji, Japan, where fisherman sell dolphins into captivity or kill them for meat. As depicted in the film, the practice is cruel and the dolphin meat contains risky levels of mercury.

O'Barry is an activist who once worked as a trainer on the popular 1960s television show "Flipper." After watching a dolphin he worked with commit suicide in his arms, he came to the conclusion that dolphins were not meant to be kept in captivity. He has dedicated his life campaigning for animal rights, a quest that eventually took him to Taiji (you can read more about his efforts here).

The show will address questions that fans of the film may have wondered about -- such as whether the slaughter continues and whether the Japanese  still unknowingly eat mercury-laden dolphin meat. "What has happened now is that they're not killing dolphins in the cove; they've moved offshore," O'Barry said. "They've created an artificial cove out of nets, and they drive the dolphins in there and kill them so we can't photograph it. But we have some drones and small planes and things to prove it."

Marjorie Kaplan, general manager and president of Animal Planet, said the film's message was perfect for the channel.

"Ric and Lincoln O'Barry are fascinating men with an important mission and remarkable stories to share," she said. "We're delighted to be working with them on their next project."

Dolp If a press release issued by the government in Taiji last night is any indication, the Japanese remain unimpressed by the film's success. "There are different food traditions within Japan and around the world," read the statement. "It is important to respect and understand regional food cultures, which are based on traditions with long histories."

On the Oscar telecast, O'Barry held up a sign urging interested viewers to text message a number for more information about how to support the cause. More than 50,000 text messages have come in so far, O'Barry said.

The activist also encountered a number of celebrities at the Oscars who said they would visit Taiji next September, when the annual dolphin slaughter begins. Daryl Hannah, Sting and Ben Stiller have already pledged their support, he said.

Until then, O'Barry, now 70, is heartened by the fact that the film will be released at a limited number of Japanese movie theaters in June.

"They can't deny this film anymore," he said. "The last couple of months have meant validation, in a word. It's been a breakthrough for me."

Check out my video with the film's director, Louie Psihoyos, and O'Barry from the red carpet last night:

-- Amy Kaufman

Photo credits: (From top) Junji Kurokawa / Associated Press; Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (36)

The comments to this entry are closed.

There was no mention of Seaworld and the fact that the capture of live dolphins for show and entertainment purposes is the main reason for the existence of the practices shown in "The Cove."

I think Cover has exposed our underbelly for treating other living species with the utter disgust we show. Just wrote my opinion at spooftimes and hope people would appreciate that these animals too have feelings.

During one of the news magazine interviews about The Cover, it was revealed that Sea World uses dolphins bred in captivity. I believe it said that US Theme parks no longer use dolphins captured from the wild.

Movies with political agendas are not documentaries, they are just propaganda films, how they get nominated with real documentaries are beyond me.

Japan claim we are to emotional and that they are within legal limits in killing dolphins. Japan claim we are to emotional and that they are within legal limits in killing dolphins. Lets see how emotional they get when we stop buying their cars and electronics. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnGSbm6HS_U

This is bull. So we should go back to burning witches because that was the way things should be done. We need to do more and stop the Dolphin slaughter NOW!

CULTURAL TRADITION cannot be an acceptable excuse for cruelty. Were that true, we'd still have slavery, we wouldn't be against bride burning, or genital mutilations. Cruelty is unacceptable for any reason Japan!

How unbelievably hypocritical is this? So it's ok to kill cows, pigs, chicken but it's 'barbaric' to kill dolphins for consumption... Confining a cow for its whole life is not barbaric? What standards should we use to define 'barbaric', the one that the western countries decide?

Glen: this isn't about politics. It's about saving an INCREDIBLY intelligent and self-aware species, and protecting the environment, and it's about governments not protecting their people by allowing contaminated meat into the market (a problem that exists in different forms in many if not all countries).

Hey Glen where'd you study film? Where'd you study media history? No documentary or newspaper article or photojournalism is objective reporting. No one has believed that in 40 years. They are all made from a POINT OF VIEW. So let's see - going undercover to find out the truth behind the Japanese whale and dolphin slaughter and the Japanese black-market trade in live cetaceans is a subject these filmmakers took on. Why? Gee because they thought it was something to be exposed - something people should see in action and think about before they eat dolphin meat and get mercury poisoning or go to Seaworld and see a trainer killed by a trapped whale right before their eyes..
They've uncovered an illegal slaughter in a national park, mercury poisoned meat being put in school children's "free" lunches, dolphins being sold on the black market by the "Taiji Whaling Museum" which is designated as an aquarium but is really a front for the sale of live animals (which is not in the WAZA charter). So what part of this "truth" don't you like? There's Seaworld's publicity and Japan's PR people and then there are those who try to tell you what might be really happening.
Propaganda is the repression of one kind of information so that another message can be promoted. Most often propaganda is used to suppress the TRUTH. Films like "The Cove" are revealing the information that Seaworld's and Japan's propaganda machines are suppressing.
Don't denounce every documentary as propaganda - that just makes you look stupid.

How ironic that the Academy chose to honor a film that focuses on another nation's practice of killing animals for food, and condemns it as barbaric...while ignoring Food,Inc. which hit much closer to home and reveals the barbarism involved in putting food on our own tables. No doubt Academy members felt more comfortable and self-righteous with a film that puts blame elsewhere. A pity.

I think this was the "low" moment of the Oscars---Self-promoting to TEXT to SAVE the Dolphins.....The LOWEST. Luckily, the producers caught on and "cut" away. Smart move. I am glad to see someone so "passionate" about saving something, that it makes me wonder-----Would this same person(s) do the same for the MILLIONS that are HOMELESS in this country??? the Millions of Men, Women and Children that are HOMELESS in the USA!!! Could he be that passionate???? Before WE can save the "animals" and other "species" on this planet, WE have to SOLVE our own problems. Homelessness, Foreclosure, UnEmployment, Financial Crisis......after all, it won't mean a THING if we SAVE the Dolphins, and yet we ALLOW Humans to live in "without" in life. SO---I challenge Ric O'Barry and his crew to be Extremely PASSIONATE about the HOMELESSNESS issue in the US and then I will take a look at the Dolphin issue.

This story can't be told too often!

Hooray! I will watch every episode. I am 100% behind the removal of all animals from the entertainment industry. We know too much now to justify this cruelty. We understand their complex communications, their family structure, their social hierarchy, their patterns of travel which should give us tremendous insight into the horrors of incarceration for these animals. Animal Planet strikes again! Well done.

If you are going to drive home a point with the Japanese eating dolphin, focusing on the mercury and its health risks for the people eating meat tainted with it is a better choice. Going to Japan and making a film that attacking marine life consumption there is the equivalent of a foreign person making a film about the beef or pork consumption in the USA, a film that would paint Americans who work in that industry as savages.

Reform begins at home. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if the dolphins sold into captivity were mostly purchased in the USA. If you want to kill an industry, start by reaching the consumers.

I think it's cool that this show is being made, but again as other commenters have pointed out, where do we get off criticizing other cultures for their slaughtering of animals when we do the same thing in the US, just with different animals? Have you ever been around a pig? They are very intelligent animals, and yet they are subject to abuse and slaughter in the name of the US "diet". Why do we value some animals more than others? On one hand, anything that can be done to stop animal suffering I will get on board with, but on the other, we need to extend this kind of passion to ALL animals.

Yes in the US we eat animals too--unless you are a vegetarian. And plenty of us are. I choose to be one because I don't want to eat ANY animals. I am also appalled at making trick animals of beautiful creatures where they don't belong.

The premise is that these animals have FEELINGS and INTELLIGENCE.
Further, how it compares qualitatively to human feelings and intelligence is part of the issue. They are equating the human experience to that of animals. Other words, humans and animals are no different from each other. This is the fundamental philosophy it's based on. Further, if they are cute and more responsive to human interaction, they are 'smarter' than other animals. So kill dolphins = cruelty. Kill a wild boar = eh, go ahead, I'm not gonna give up my baby back ribs. WAIT are we biased and prejudice against ugly? Is it o.k to hurt and kill ugly people? Can we can we? Save the beauty queen! Kill the geek! Because the cuter they are like baby seals, smarter and more 'human' like they are! No wonder we killed all those Indians, or Native Americans, or Indigenous, or whatever people that were here, they were savages, unlike cute little dolphins that save swimmers from those ugly mean looking sharks! Oh wait, that was a scene from a Hollywood movie!

Are we really going to tell people what they can and cannot eat? Are we going into China or South Korea and telling them not to eat dog nor cats and that they are bastards for eating them, but pigs and cows are acceptable because we say it's so? And because our american sensibilities are rights and theirs are not?

And I know people have problems with the methods of killing. But then, in hundreds of societies, their methods are equally as old, primitive, traditional, whatever you want to call it. Not everyone can be technologically motivated as the western world, or can even afford that luxury. We are so technologically dependent and so disconnected from the world that the more natural ways of obtaining meat are barbaric to us, even ironically "unnatural". But this is the way people live. They are not evil, not barbarians, not bad people. This is their way of life. This country needs to get on the bandwagon of cultural relativism and stop being so morally self-righteous.

The meat from dolphins is highly toxic. Its not just about what they are doing to the animals, its about what they are doing to the people as well. Know your facts before you post. Thanks!

i agree somewhat w/ charlie but am a surfer and it's been proven that dolphins deter sharks . having been attacked twice , and most likely accidentily by sharks, i thoroughly like pods of dolphins , however i also like baby back ribs


Dont be cynical, we all know what this is all about, it's about how western countries have difficulty accepting that other cultures eat different animals.. western countries find barbaric when other cultures eat an animal that is not featured in their "ok list". They create this "ok for food" list and want everybody to obey their rules. That's stupid. They treat cows in a much more barbaric way and think they have the right to point fingers at others.

A dolphin lives freely until they are hunted. A cow lives confined their whole life living a meaningless life. That's barbaric but at least I have the humility to not point fingers at anyone, because anyone who eats food today has their hands dirty. Even if someone comes with that argument that they don't eat meat, they should research how animals lost their habitat to give place to soy plantations. Cruel world isnt it?

And this absurd argument saying that dolphins are smart and should be given preference, reminds me of nazi style thinking.

Maybe you should try to accept that in some part of the world, different people eat different animals. I could be concerned that people who eat too much mcdonalds and drink too much cola will have health problems but I choose to let them decide what they want to eat. Maybe you should do the same.

Stop the hipocrisy and arrogance!

Great, but let's give some credit where credit is due . . . to Hardy Jones of Bluevoice.org. Hardy has been fighting Japanese authorities for decades, filming the slaughters and putting his own life on the line to bring this horrific situation to the public eye. He started way before The Cove guys "discovered" it. I hear they even met with Hardy, but didn't give him any credit for his years of dedication to this work. Let's hear it for Hardy Jones! www.bluevoice.org

One person said that Sea World only uses dolphins that are already in captivity. That means that inbreeding is not too far around the corner. I wonder how those animals will perform or treat their trainers or even live?

Sea World just wants your money. They trained those animals to live off of dead fish by keeping them in a state of hunger, which is what motivates them to do the tricks they do for all the shallow minded people who pay to watch them.

My step mother tried to tell me that dolphins she swam with at some place were really happy and that they ate lots of little "fishies" (she's a bit of geek) anyway, I had to ask her if she had ever seen a dolphin that she thought didn't look happy and then pointed out that it was the little fishies that motivated them to want to swim with her and all the other humans in their small pool.

I think Sea World does a better job at training its patrons than it does its whales as proven last month in Orlando. They know how to make people "Believe" anything.

Calidude, I don't think your post makes sense. How much do you know about dolphins? Probably not much. People who do know a lot about them are going to naturally be more passionate about their plight. Obviously you are super passionate about the homeless. What are you doing other than sort of bash challenging these guys to do good works there? What are your good works to help them? Are you getting the word out in any POSITIVE ways. And the sign that Ric was holding up was simply a mobile petition that people could sign to our leaders and Japans to stop the slaughter. I think if you are going to criticize so much you should get the facts right.

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